Chaos hits ABC

Chaos hits ABC

MASERU – THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) was this week thrown into turmoil after the chairman launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, ‘Maeasiah Thabane. A seething Motlohi Maliehe started firing salvos at Thabane and his wife at a rally in Mechachane constituency on Sunday. Speaking off the cuff, Maliehe said Thabane seems to have lost control of the party to his wife. He accused ‘Maeasiah of meddling in the government’s and ABC’s affairs.

As evidence he pointed to the abrupt dismissal of former Health Minister Nyapane Kaya whom he said was fired at ‘Maeasiah’s instigation after he refused to tinker with some tenders in the ministry. Maliehe said ABC members were furious at the First Lady for interfering in government and party affairs. He said Thabane has lost his grip on the party and his wife was now running the show.

Maliehe, who has declared interest in becoming the deputy leader, is the first senior ABC official to publicly criticise the prime minister and his wife.
By doing so he is straying into an emotive debate that has been raging in the party for the past six months or so.
He is repeating what rank and file members of the ABC have been saying on radio and social media. But that such a senior member who is also one of the founders of the ABC is saying it publicly at a rally could be indication that matters have come to a head.

thepost spoke to Maliehe yesterday to find out if he still stands by what he said at the Sunday rally.
Speaking from Durban where he is attending a tourism conference, Maliehe was even more scathing, saying the prime minister’s wife had captured both the government and the party. He said he was not going to stop talking because he stands with disgruntled members of the party, especially the people in his constituency.

He said he did not care if he is fired from Cabinet for “speaking the truth”. The speech at the rally was not planned but he could not hold back his anger at what was happening in government and the party, Maliehe said. “I have been trying to negotiate and talk about this issue but I was not getting any joy,” he said, adding that he has been trying to speak to Thabane for months but he had stopped answering his calls.
“The phone would ring and ring until it cut. He was avoiding meeting me.”

“So I told the people who are always around him that I was going to blast this thing and now I have blasted it.”
The tourism minister said he was not afraid to speak against Thabane because “me and him are the only founding members of the party who are still around”.

“If he shuts me out then who am I going to talk to about issues affecting the party?”
He said his problem with the First Lady is the way she has been allowed to be “involved in the running of the government and the party”.
“It’s in the way she expresses herself towards the government.”

Maliehe said he last spoke to the First Lady in June last year. “She refused to shake my hand. This was the third time she was doing that. I then decided that I am not her child and I am not going to be her puppet.” He said since then he has been treated like an ordinary ABC member when he is the chairperson and one of the founders.

He said he was aware that there are some people who have been hired to kill him but is not cowed.
“I stand for my people. I stand for the ABC members whom I can tell you are really disgruntled.”
Asked what he wanted Thabane to do, Maliehe said he was pushing for “the leader to control his wife”.
“She should be taking care of him and running her charities instead of interfering with political matters. All I am saying to the leader is that he should control his wife.”

He said although he and other members are disgruntled it does not mean that the party is on the verge of a split.
“Some members are saying if he prefers his wife then he should leave politics.”
Maliehe said he remains loyal to the party and Thabane but is only “appealing to him to control his wife”.

“He remains my leader and my father. If only he can control his wife then all will be fine.” Both Thabane and the First Lady could not be reached for comment as their phones were not being answered. They are on a government mission in Sudan.
But ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele said he was shocked by Maliehe’s statements because as a senior party member he knows the channels to follow when he wants to raise issues.

He said it was “unlike” Maliehe to make such statements. “I cannot personally say what the party would do about this. The ABC National Executive Committee is yet to decide Maliehe’s future in the party,” Ntsekele said.

Ntsekele said as far as he knew Thabane was still in control of the party. Maliehe’s comments, he said, were unfortunate because the ABC is leading the coalition. “But those are his opinions and there is nothing l can say.” He was coy to say if Maliehe’s statements were a sign of cracks emerging in the ruling party. He however said if executive committee members are speaking in public “it means there are things they are not happy with”.
At the rally in Mechachane, Maliehe said the First Lady had overstepped her authority. “The leader’s wife is politicking through radio stations. She once said if a minister is underperforming she calls such minister to reprimand him. Who does she think she is?”  “She reprimands a minister? Who is answerable to who?”

Staff Reporter

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